Students given unique incentives for Flint fundraiser

While the act of giving to the struggling people of Flint is reward enough, Dowagiac Union High School’s students participating in the school’s latest fundraiser have a little extra incentive to donate to the less fortunate this month.

Through the end of the month, the school is collecting donations from students and others in the community that will benefit people living in the beleaguered eastern Michigan city. As an added bonus, a number of school staff members have agreed to subject themselves to various “acts of torture,” depending on the amount of money raised.

For example, if the students raise $300, physical education instructor Matt MacQuillan will have to dress as leprechaun for one day. If they raise $600, English teacher Dustin Cornelius, a diehard University of Notre Dame fan, will have to spend a day draped in the maize and blue of the University of Michigan’s Wolverines, and will have to sing the school’s fight song over the PA that same morning.

Should the students reach their ultimate goal of $3,000, social studies teacher Dan VandenHeede has agreed to shave his beard.

The idea to raise money to support the people of Flint was to other members of the staff by former teacher Teri Frantz, said Cornelius, one of the organizers of the donation drive. Cornelius and a handful of other teachers ran with the idea of having their fellow staff members undergo different kinds of humiliation to help get the students to contribute, coming up with a list of more than a dozen teachers and staff to see if they would be willing to participate, Cornelius said.

“I’m shocked they all said yes,” Cornelius said. “To be honest I couldn’t believe VandenHeede agreed to it — we knew that would be the biggest sacrifice of all.”

The organizers didn’t get the ball rolling on the project until after students returned from spring break earlier this month, asking students to donate whatever they could during lunch period.

So far, the collection has been rather slow going, with only $57 raised so far, Cornelius said. However, organizers are hoping that students will help increase awareness of the campaign through social media, perhaps attracting others in the community to donate as well.

“There are some alumni in the community who would love to see their former teachers ‘tortured,’” Cornelius said.

Should the students reach any of the donation milestones, the organizers are looking to host an assembly, so the entire school can see staff publicly carrying out their acts of humiliation, Cornelius said. They are hoping to live stream the event as well so that even nonstudents can witness the event from home.

People wishing to donate to the fundraiser have until the end of the month to do so. Nonstudents can donate via a GoFundMe page, at http://www.gofundme.com/8kwfkb8s.

“Your penny, your dime — it all makes a difference, it all counts,” Cornelius said. “Don’t be afraid your donation isn’t enough. Just give what you have to give; and share the message.”

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